Korean Students Visit VWIL Cadets

Mary Baldwin University’s Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership cadets participated in a unique cultural perspective experience in early September as cadets from MBU’s Korean partner school, Shungshin University, brought 13 cadets to visit the VWIL freshmen in the Student Activities Center on campus.

Shungshin is home to the only all-female core of cadets in South Korea. Once a year the cadets travel across America to meet with other corps around the country.

Mary Baldwin VWIL freshmen with Shungshin Korean cadets
Mary Baldwin VWIL freshmen with Shungshin Korean cadets

After President Pamela Fox welcomed the cadets they spent two hours visiting with the VWIL students. With the help of a translator and creative hand singling at times, the two programs came together to discuss the difference and similarities in their programs.

From shoe shining practices to exercise regimens, no military topic was off limit for the cadets. Students from both universities reached outside of their cultural comfort zones to learn from one another’s experiences.

Lisa Brown, assistant director of the Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement, believes the VWIL cadets gain more than they realize from the visit.

“Looking at all the women here at Mary Baldwin who might be going into the military, it might be a really good opportunity for them so that they can have that experience of looking someone in the eye and have a conversation and have that chance for intercultural exchange,” said Brown.

VWIL freshmen converse with Shungshin cadets
VWIL freshmen converse with Shungshin cadets

The visit allowed some VWIL students to take a trip around the world without ever having to leave campus.

“For some women, particularly those in VWIL, it may be hard for them to take a semester and study abroad because their requirements are so rigorous. So we want them to have as many opportunities for intercultural exchange as possible,” said Brown, regarding the cultural differences students shared together.

VWIL corporal Caroline Fresch used the visit to grow as a cadet.

“The partnership between our universities shows the strength in our programs,” Fresch said. “We get to see how the other operates and take it as inspiration to improve our own lives.”

Both schools exchanged gifts in the form of American and South Korean flags.

This is the second time the Shungshin students have visited the campus. Mary Baldwin hopes to continue to make the cadet visit a yearly occurrence.